Long winter ahead as Raptors slide drags on with Nets loss
By Steve Keating
TORONTO (Reuters) - The snow has just started to fall in the National Basketball Association's most northern outpost and all signs are pointing to a long, bitter winter for the Toronto Raptors.
A 94-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets sent the nose-diving Raptors to their sixth straight defeat and 12th in 13 games on Wednesday, not the type of results that will have Christmas shoppers rushing out to snap up tickets as stocking stuffers.
With the locked-out Toronto Maple Leafs walking the National Hockey League picket line, the Raptors have the city's sports stage to themselves, but have failed to seize the spotlight.
The young Raptors were assured a bumpy start to the season, with 15 of their opening 22 games on the road, but returned to the Air Canada Centre after a jarring 0-5 road trip that included a calling out from under-fire general manager Bryan Colangelo, who labeled the team's performance "embarrassing".
The reeling Raptors will play 11 of their next 15 at home, a stretch that will determine whether Toronto battle for a playoff spot, as tipped before the season, or a lottery pick.
"I thought the guys competed, they played the game the right way," Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters, searching for positives from another loss.
"I was really proud the way the guys came out and competed but there are no consolation prizes in the NBA."
The Raptors could not have picked a better opponent to kick off their home stand in the weary Nets, who arrived in Toronto mired in their own season-high five-game tailspin, having played back-to-back nights and coming off a heartbreaking loss to the New York Knicks. Continued...